The Cardinal added to that with a major surprise on signing day.
Riding the wave of a second straight conference championship, Stanford received a big boost when Solomon Thomas — one of the most sough-after defensive ends in the country — committed to the Cardinal. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder from the Dallas suburb of Coppell selected Stanford over Arkansas and UCLA on national television by pulling out a small tree and putting on black “nerd” glasses with white tape over the bridge.
“I thought it was awesome. I thought it was fun,” said Stanford coach David Shaw, who found out from Thomas two days earlier. “The nerd is not necessarily a negative word anymore.”
Thomas’ decision put the finishing touches on a class that showed just how much the Stanford brand has expanded Shaw’s first three seasons.
Stanford had secured most of its key recruits well before signing day after they academically qualified weeks — and, in some cases, months — ago. The program sealed up a 20-player class coming from 12 different states Wednesday, the first day players could sign national letters of intent.
The group includes quarterback Keller Chryst, one of the most decorated pocket-passers in the country and the son of 49ers quarterback coach Geep Chryst, from right across the street at Palo Alto High School; top tight end Dalton Schultz (South Jordan, Utah); and offensive tackle Casey Tucker (Gilbert, Ariz.).
Cornerback Terrence Alexander, from native New Orleans, also joined Thomas as one of the late signees.
Stanford’s 2014 class
National rankings: (Rivals 14; Scout 15)
Best in class: Solomon Thomas, DE, Coppell (Coppell, Texas)
Best of the rest: Keller Chryst, QB, Palo Alto; Schultz, TE, Bingham (South Jordan, Utah); Tucker, OT, Hamilton (Gilbert, Ariz.)
One that got away: Uriah Leiataua, DE, Dominguez High School, Compton (BYU)